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Begginner bassist

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by charic, Apr 21, 2006.

  1. charic


    Apr 17, 2006
    Hey ive been playin bass now about a month, according to my mates im making good progress. But i was wondering if you guys have and hints or tips to help me improve, and yes i do practice a LOT. Im looking to play metal and rock stuff at the moment. Im working on finger picking but am finding a plectrum much easier atm.
    Also wondering if you can recommend any songs for a begginner? I play a lot of offspring, i can play muse: citizen erased and megadeth: a toute le monde. An help would be appreciated.

    Thanks :)
  2. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    1. Timing - Being able to provide a solid foundation for the music is job #1 for a bass player. If your note tempo is all over the place, then you aren't doing your job. Practice with a metronome and work on being able to produce a steady stream of 8th notes and nailing the beat. Yes, this can be boring, but developing a good sense of tempo will serve you forever.

    2. Consistancy - While you are pounding out your steady 8th note rhythm, concentrate on making each note sound the same. Each note should have the same volume and duration. Once you get the hang of this, start working on intentionally varying your dynamics by mixing loud and soft notes, full and stacatto notes.

    3. Right Hand Technique - Don't limit yourself to one particular style. Learn how to play with a pick, fingerstyle, and slap. The more things you are proficient at, the more tools you will have at your disposal to create the type of bass line that the music needs.

    4. Left Hand Technique - Just as important as picking consistant notes is fretting consistantly. Work on fretting immediately behind the fret and making sure the note is fretted with enough pressure to provide a clean tone.

    5. Technique first, speed later - Trying to play fast can be fun, but if you are sloppy, it will just sound like crap. Speed will come naturally as your skills develop and it will sound a lot better.
  3. ^^ What he said. Excellent advice.

    Here are two more tips...

    If you want to learn timing, play simple parts that don't take a lot of concentration on notes (think fretting hand on autopilot). Play with a song you know very well. Adjust your volume versus the recording's volume so you can hear yourself louder at times and the recording louder at times. After mastering a bass line, you get to the point where it is hard to tell whether you are hearing more of you or more of the recording because you are right on tempo.

    If you want to expand your chops, find a line that is a little too hard for you to play, learn to play it slower than the target tempo, and then speed up. It can take weeks and hundreds of repetitions to get there, but once you've done it that skill is yours to keep. Muscle memory is an amazing thing... what takes a month now can be relearned a year later in 10 minutes. You might come up with three or four different ways to play the same line (different strings/positions/techniques). And, you may find that some of those ways work when you speed up and some don't. If your technique breaks down at speed, slow back down and possibly try another way to play it. A rule of thumb on most any instrument is if you can't play below tempo, you can't play at tempo either.
  4. charic


    Apr 17, 2006
    thanks guys, will bear all this in mind :D
  5. Perretje


    Apr 23, 2006
    Pink Floyd is easy and fun to play.
    For example, Money has a nice and steady base-line.
  6. Good advice, also alternate your index and middle fingers when working the eighth notes. Also tune your bass before you start playing. Take a rest if either hand / arm / fingers feel uncomfortable. ( they are going for feel uncomfortable, since these are different muscles you are not use to using. Make sure the bass is at a comfortable, not hanging to low, and where there is no strain on your wrist when playing the lower register (near the tuning pegs). Remember that 30 minutes playing everyday is better than playing hours in a day once or twice a week.

    Anything from AC/DC back in black CD are good to learn for the beginner.
  7. charic


    Apr 17, 2006
    Yeah thanks guys, my arm muscles are pretty used to the strain (keyboard is very similar in those aspects and was just as stressful cause i loved my speed lol) i can play money i just kinda forgot i could lol oh and yeah acdc back in black album is one of my faves im tryin to get rock and roll aint noise pollution down and its going well. Have you guys ever found that you can play much more complicated basslines if you write them yourselves? I have, i actually impressed the bassist to a band i engineer for when i was messin around on his bass (with permission of course, as i hate it when anyone touches one of my instruments without asking) he asked what i was playing lol and that it was really cool, he got the response of "i dunno, sumfin i made up" lol.
  8. Another good point above... it kills me to see how many guys have bad form, even the pros sometimes. If that bass is slung way down low, chances are you are damaging your left wrist and hand. If you are wearing the bass as a necklace, you are probably damaging your right wrist and hand. Learn to play in a position that allows you to keep your wrists straight, relax your arm muscles, and align your fingers to a comfortable playing position.

    Fatigue means back off practice times a bit. Any signs of tingling or numbness mean back off practice times and improve your form.
  9. charic


    Apr 17, 2006
    yeah ive noticed that the position of the bass makes a HUGE difference. I play with it about level with my waist which is comfotable with me as i can move around easily (walking and playing) and my hands are quite comfortable. Fatigue has not been a huge problem altho i had to find myself a decent strap and im still not quite happy with it to be honest but itll do for now
  10. I've noticed that I had, and some of my friends that I'm teaching, tend to bend the notes when fretting. Gives off a horrible sound. Definately make sure that you're not bending the notes. A bass out of tune makes the band out of tune.
    Sound sound sound. As they said: Make sure that all the notes have the same volume, length, and consistency.
    I suggest play with NO effects for a year at least, so you can get everything basic down. Hell, don't even play with effects.
    Know you're music theory. Knowing chords, progressions, etc. helps!

    This is a great place to learn about theory.

    When I started playing, I had the bass cranked, no mid, and an average amount of treble. That, I wish I hadn't done. I would have progressed more had I had the bass down, and the mid and treble up to hear how clean my notes were coming out.
    Definately work on picking, finger picking before going to slap and tapping. In reality, you're more likely to use the first two before the last two.
    Learn how to tune by ear. Tune your E string to E, and after that, tune the rest by ear. Once you learn how to do that quickly, you'll pick up notes in songs easier.
    Work on your OFPF (One Finger Per Fret.) Metallica's "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)" is a good work-out on the fingers.
    And that would be the information that I learned off of.
  11. charic


    Apr 17, 2006
    Ill have a look at those songs, I have a grade five in theory, and im know looking deep in2 scales. I do use effects but only when playing either as a group or practicing those songs.

    Thanks! :D

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